Sustainable brands and sustainable marketing are often seen as synonymous with ecological responsibility and being green. But there are three key pillars to a sustainable strategy; ecology, economy and culture.
The ecological dimension
This is perhaps the best known and best understood dimension, and many brands are already working hard in this area.
The economic dimension
Is the economic and financial model sustainable? What effect will this have on the other two dimensions – will the pricing model unavoidably lead to offshore manufacture, social exploitation or long distance transportation? How will the brand’s business plan impact upon increasingly globalised markets.
The cultural/social dimension
Brands operate in human societies: everything that happens is an interaction between people and the brand. And those interactions cause impacts and changes on both. We must weigh the effects of the brand upon the societies in which it operates – its employees, suppliers, customers and the world at large.
Consideration of these dimensions is not only socially responsible, but makes sound business sense as it can be seen as a differentiator of corporate social responsibility.
Put aside the green dimension for a moment. Consider the impact of such economic and social actions as sports goods brands manufacturing in third world sweatshops or banks moving call centres emerging economies – then think of the impact that had upon the brands, their values and their reputations.